If you are planning to make a claim for compensation as a result of an injury you have suffered at the hands of someone else, then it is important for you to understand the different aspects of the process. One of the most important things for you to be aware of is the various limitations on claims. We have put together this little guide to help clarify the issue.
Firstly, it is important for you to be aware of the UK’s Statute of Limitations with regards to personal injury claims. First introduced in 1980 as part of the General Limitation Act, this legislation places a limit on the period during which a claim can be made post-injury. Essentially, it was brought in to ensure that claims for injury are made when evidence of liability is available and clear. It also prevents defendants from having to live under ongoing fear of litigation. The current time period set by the Statute is three years, meaning that if you have suffered an injury you are required to file a claim within three years of the accident happening.
The three year period actually begins on the day you become aware that you have incurred an injury. Whilst this will typically be the day that the accident occurs, in some cases it may be a week or so after the injury. For example, if someone is involved in a minor car accident, they may not begin to suffer from persistent back pain until a day or two after the accident. The day on which you start to be aware of the injury is referred to in the claim process as the ‘Day of Knowledge’.
There are some claims in which special circumstances mean the limitation period is increased or decreased:
Firstly, the Montreal and Athens Conventions, legislated in 1999 and 1974 respectively, govern the limitation period for claims when the person has been injured either in the air (Montreal) or at sea (Athens). Essentially, this would apply to someone who had been injured in a boating accident or whilst on an aeroplane. Both of these conventions are applicable in the UK and both reduce the limitation period to two years rather than three.
Secondly, on some occasions a personal injury claim could fall under the remit of the Consumer Protection Act. This act applies if you sustained an injury as a result of an item you have purchased being faulty. Under this act, the limitation period is still three years, but only provided the product has been in market circulation for less than ten years. So, for instance, if your injury is caused by a manufacturer or design flaw found in a product that has been on the market for nine years, you would only have one year to make a claim, rather than three.
Thirdly, personal injury claims cannot be made by a minor. As a result, the limitation period for injuries suffered by anyone under the age of eighteen begins on their 18th birthday and typically runs until their 21st. However, a parent or guardian can be entitled to make a claim on the child’s behalf before the child is of age by acting as a ‘Litigation Friend’.
These are some of the main limitations that exist for personal injury claims. It is wise to consult a professional should you wish to find out more.